Thursday Open Thread

“Whoever seeks to set one religion against another seeks to destroy all religion.”

–Franklin D. Roosevelt

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (September 21)

Dad says to vote for Hillary Clinton.

Dad says to vote for Hillary Clinton.

Enjoy the last day of summer before the Autumnal Equinox. We really just wanted to write the phrase, “Autumnal Equinox.” It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Issues of race relations and police brutality continue to boil across the country. As the Washington Post reports:

A riot in North Carolina overnight is a fitting bookend to three months of heightened tensions between the police and the people. From Louisiana to Minnesota to Texas, a host of incidents have again and again put racial tensions back on the front burner of the presidential campaign. They’ve also inspired the national anthem protests that have roiled the National Football League.

The killings of unarmed black men at the hands of police and the murders of cops in Dallas and Baton Rouge did not lead to a period of national healing or sustained soul searching.

The stories might have disappeared from the front pages, but the incidents have continued. Temporarily-bandaged wounds are re-opening around the country this week, as frustrations boil over.

Tuesday’s riot in Charlotte came after a police officer shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott while responding to an incident that was completely unrelated to the victim.

 

► The campaign for Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump is responding to new allegations that Trump uses funds from the “Trump Foundation” to pay for personal or business-related expenses. As Chris Cillizza writes for “The Fix,” that response isn’t working particularly well:

On Tuesday morning, the Washington Post published a story headlined: “Trump used $258,000 from his charity to settle legal problems.” Written by David Fahrenthold, who has written extensively about the Trump Foundation, the piece details how Trump directed more than $250,000 of the charity’s money to help pay fees related to his businesses. Those payments could qualify as “self-dealing” and violate laws governing how the leaders of non-profit organizations can use the money they receive in donations .

On Tuesday night, Trump communications director Jason Miller issued a statement disputing David’s reporting. Sort of. Actually not really…

…And then there is the name-calling — the assertion that Dave is a “biased reporter” who is intentionally misleading the public to distract from the problems with the Clinton Foundation. “Bias” is a nasty word tossed around all took often these days about reporters — almost always with too little and, by that I mean no, proof of the claim. A reporter isn’t biased because you don’t like the facts he or she has uncovered or those facts don’t comport with your broader vision of this race.

 

► Here come the Trumpians! Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump is sending his daughter, Ivanka Trump, as the featured guest at a Denver-area fundraiser for the candidate today. On Thursday, Donald Trump, Jr. will talk “sportsmen’s issues” on the Western Slope, and Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence will make (another) stop in Colorado Springs. Trump himself was just in Colorado Springs on Saturday.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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A Fresh Dose of Bogus “Obamascare”

THURSDAY UPDATE: A commenter correctly notes below that while the nationwide rate of policyholders who receive tax credits to help cover insurance premiums is 85%, Colorado itself has a somewhat lower percentage of individual insured who get tax credits–61.9%, attributable to higher personal incomes in the state.

It’s certainly a big enough difference to merit clarifying, though the fact remains that the large premium hikes reported without any distinction as to who is affected are incorrect. We’re still talking about 7.7% of Colorado’s population, of whom a large percentage receive tax credits to reduce and even reverse the impact.

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Nothing but Obamascare on the Denver Post's front page today.

Nothing but Obamascare on the Denver Post’s front page.

Headlines across the state are blaring an alarming message today about large increases in health insurance premiums for Colorado proposed for next year–and as we’ve seen repeatedly now after premium hikes became political with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a “Obamacare,” factual reporting is taking a back seat to sensationalism.

AP via CBS4 is a good example:

Coloradans shopping for health insurance will see double-digit rate hikes next year, a result of insurers leaving the market and cutting plans.

The lack of any qualifiers in that sentence is enough to grab the attention of…well, everyone who pays for health insurance in Colorado–individuals, businesses, everybody. And it shouldn’t be necessary to remind our readers that the political opponents of Obamacare have no interest in clarifying. Today’s Denver Post story from reporter John Ingold, titled “Individual rates in Colo. to jump an average 20%,” does little to clear up the confusion:

The finalized numbers confirm the worries that began in June when the steep increases were first proposed. In a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican, blamed the increases on President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, which led to the creation of the exchanges.

“The people of Colorado can’t afford Obamacare,” Gardner said. “Obamacare can’t keep its promises.”

Marguerite Salazar, Colorado’s insurance commissioner, said the increases are the result of rising health care costs overall. The increases for people who buy their plans on the state’s Obamacare exchange and those who buy insurance off of it will be roughly the same. [Pols emphasis]

That last statement, like the lede in the AP wire story most people are reading today, is extremely misleading with context. Without a expert’s understanding of the subject of health insurance, these news reports could easily lead ordinary citizens to believe that the cost of all health insurance in Colorado is dramatically spiking.

But turning to the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby, we finally see a story that doesn’t try to sensationalize first and explain later:

Health insurance premiums on Colorado’s individual market for 2017 will be about 20 percent higher than those from this year, but not everyone will have to pay so much. [Pols emphasis]

Wait, what? Didn’t you just read from the Associated Press that “Coloradans shopping for health insurance will see double-digit rate hikes next year?” As Ashby reports to his small media market, that’s not the whole story. Not even close:

That large increase applies only to individuals who get their insurance through the state’s health care exchange — known as Connect For Health Colorado — who don’t qualify for federal tax credits, according to the Colorado Division of Insurance. [Pols emphasis]

Those who are qualified for credits and continue to have the same or cheaper plan as this year could see an average decrease in rates of about 11 percent to 29 percent, while others on the exchange can minimize their increase to about 13 percent by switching to a lower cost plan, the division said.

Meanwhile, the average person on employer-sponsored plans, which make up about 51 percent of all insured Coloradans, all will see an increase of about 2.1 percent, said Marguerite Salazar, Colorado’s insurance commissioner.

In truth, the “average 20% increase” only applies to individual plans sold via the state’s insurance exchange–less than 8% of Colorado’s population according to the Colorado Health Foundation. What’s more, 85% 62% (see above) of individual policyholders through the insurance exchange receive federal tax credits to ease the burden–so much so that most of them will in fact see a decrease, not an increase, in their premiums. For the majority of Coloradans who get their insurance through their employer, that 2.1% increase you see buried in these stories–even though it applies to vastly more people–is considerably less alarming.

So with all of this in mind, what the hell is (almost) every media outlet in the state doing misinforming the public like this? This kind of grossly misleading sensationalism in journalism is never okay–and just weeks from a major election, it’s a serious problem.

Obamacare’s enemies have flooded the debate with preposterous lies from the moment the law was introduced in Congress. This is another opportunity to ask our friends in the fourth estate to please stop helping them.

Texas Oil Industry Fights Self-Governance In Colorado

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The headline in the Denver Business Journal almost tells the story:

Colorado oil and gas industry backs tighter rules on changing constitution

But it misses the opportunity to take a deeper dive into which companies, and where they operate from, are working to “Raise the Bar” in Colorado via Amendment 71.

For that we can go to TRACER–Colorado’s campaign finance tracker, to see that the major contributor is the questionably named “Protect Colorado” (registered with the Secretary of State as Protecting Colorado’s Environment, Economy and Energy Independence) set up by former Denver Post journalist Karen Crummy. 

Wow, a cool million from this innocuous-sounding group in just the last filing.

Hmmm. It seems a curious journalist might want to poke around a little more, rather than just quote Greg Brophy, as the DBJ article does:

“We’ve received funding from a whole bunch of businesses and trade groups, all of whom in the past have been subject to constitutional amendment proposals and have had to fund the defense against all these constitutional amendments,” said former state Sen. Greg Brophy, a co-chairman of the Raise the Bar campaign. 

That’s true, contributions have come from numerous special interest groups, but the majority of dollars comes from oil and gas companies, a large number of whom are not based in Colorado at all. 

Rather they are headquartered in Texas. For instance Pioneer Natural Resources of Irving Texas put in $100,000 according to company disclosures. Noble Energy (Houston Texas) has put up quite a bit of financial backing for the dubiously named “Protect Colorado.”  And Anadarko (The Woodlands Texas) has contributed millions of dollars to make it more difficult for Colorado citizens to self govern. 

It may indeed be that Colorado’s Constitution is too readily amended. However the root of that issue may not be ballot rules, but rather that the deck is stacked, it seems to many, against local communities.

The cause may be that the State Legislature and “Blue Ribbon Task Forces” fail to address a clear and present need to make sure that oil and gas operations don’t unduly impact or harm local residents.

If that is the case then “Rigging the Bar” may seem a useful tactic to the out-of-state interests that want Colorado citizens to sit down and shut up. But over time it could very likely prove to be be a losing strategy.

Wednesday Open Thread

“The first virtue in a soldier is endurance of fatigue; courage is only the second virtue.”

–Napoleon Bonaparte

More Bad Journalism News, But with a Silver Lining

(Bad AND sad! — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Local journalist Corey Hutchins reports in his “Colorado Local News and Media” newsletter (subscribe here) on the upsurge in shifts among Colorado political reporters:

“…Denver Post political reporter Joey Bunch announced he was leaving to join The Gazette in Colorado Springs, which is beefing up its statewide political profile. But then, Gazette political reporter Megan Schrader announced she was leaving The Gazette to join The Denver Post’s editorial board. This comes after Jim Trotter’s recent move from Rocky Mountain PBS to The Gazette, and Woody Paige also leaving The Denver Post for the Colorado Springs paper.

If that wasn’t enough, The Colorado Statesman, a POLITICO-like subscription-based trade journal, effectively laid off its editorial department— just 50 days out from the election. I’m told the paper slashed half its budget. Some of the writers will still write, but on a freelance basis, and they’ll focus more on the weekly print paper than on the website, which was frequently updated. Also on the cutting room floor in Colorado: four people at BizWest Media’s Fort Collins and Boulder offices got laid off and the publication will shift to a monthly print schedule.

Whew, head spinning? Let this stop you. Former Denver Post journalist Tina Griego has returned to Colorado after four years on the East Coast, and is now an editor at The Colorado Independent. Check out her first essay about the new, gentrified, displaced Denver she found upon her return.”

No one in their right mind likes Republican Larry Mizel’s “secret” ownership of the Statesman, but cutting veteran news reporters there is obviously bad and sad.  And so is the further shrinking of The Post’s dedicated political news staff.

Usually bad journalism news has no silver lining, but this time the good news is Schader’s and Trotter’s moves and Griego’s return. Also, Post Editor Lee Ann Colaciappo informs me that the newspaper is advertising for a political writer and hopes to fill Bunch’s position soon. So let’s be thankful for that.

CORRECTION: An early version of this post incorrectly stated that The Post’s staff of political writers would be shrinking further due to Bunch’s departure. 

New Era Colorado: Young Voters To The Rescue


Student organizing group New Era Colorado is out with a new video today that’s quickly going viral with tens of thousands of views in just a few hours–the launch of their This is Why We Vote campaign to mobilize young voters for the upcoming elections:

Faced with an election which is anything but usual, New Era Colorado has launched an innovative campaign encouraging young voters to show up in large numbers this November. The campaign, This is Why We Vote, focuses on a Colorado-centered video, which puts issues firmly at the center of why young people will make their voices heard this election.

“This election shouldn’t be about a candidate’s recent gaffe; it should be about our future,” says New Era Colorado Executive Director, Lizzy Stephan. “There are some very serious issues at stake in this election, like whether we’re going to seize our last opportunity to address climate change or the fate of millions of hardworking undocumented immigrant families who don’t know what the future holds. This is what our generation cares about—this is why we vote.”

The video, which can be viewed at ThisIsWhyWeVote.org, is centered around a poem read by Toluwanimi Obiwole, a prominent spoken word artist in Colorado and Denver’s first Youth Poet Laureate. Toluwa, a previous intern at New Era Colorado, was born in Nigeria, raised in Colorado, and is currently pursuing an ethnic studies degree at the University of Colorado…

Research shows that young people are less likely to vote out of party loyalty or the appeal of a candidate, but instead vote in order to create change on the issues they care about. A line in the video “we know that protest can coexist with process” is a nod to the theme of the millennial generation generally endorsing acts of both civil disobedience as well as political participation.

Young “millennial” voters are emerging as a potentially decisive bloc in this year’s presidential elections. Despite attempts to inject a sense of “weakness” for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in favor of Donald Trump in the conventional wisdom, polls focused on younger voters show Trump very weak with them.

With Trump seemingly no more able to win over young voters than any other demographic besides old white guys, the focus for GOTV messages to these voters must be one of values overcoming a natural tendency toward complacency. Cynicism among young voters in this crazy, ugly election is probably the biggest obstacle to getting them to make the effort.

We like this video for placing its message about the noise–and talking about the values that motivate us to participate in political team sports to begin with.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (September 20)

GetMoreSmarter-SnowNo, Brangelina, say it ain’t so! It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Republican Senate candidate Darryl Glenn is losing the last of his marbles. As Peter Marcus writes for the Durango Herald, Glenn really has no idea what’s going on in Colorado:

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn says national GOP interests have largely passed him over this election because he’s guaranteed a win.

His comments have Democrats literally laughing out loud.

The comment from Glenn came last week in an interview with The Durango Herald, when Glenn was asked about his lackluster fundraising and dismal polling. He is down by double digits against Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet in several polls.

“I look at it as a compliment,” Glenn said of the lack of national interest. “They know I can beat Michael Bennet on my own.”

A spokesman for Bennet’s campaign could hardly contain himself.

“Can you quote me laughing?” asked Bennet spokesman Andrew Zucker.

Glenn’s comments were reported by the Herald just a few days after he also told the newspaper,  “I am the human equivalent of a unicorn.”

 

► Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson is ignoring repeated requests from Donald Trump to write some big checks to the campaign:

Mr. Adelson had once dangled the possibility of giving as much as $100 million to pro-Trump “super PACs,” an infusion that with a stroke would have given Mr. Trump a financially competitive network of outside groups to back his presidential campaign.

But with less than two months remaining in the campaign, the mercurial casino magnate — who entertained but ultimately rebuffed pitches from an array of Republican candidates during the party’s nominating contest this election cycle — appears to be focusing instead on Republicans in the House and Senate.

 

► Democrat Morgan Carroll is out with a new television ad that takes a huge swing at Republican Rep. Mike Coffman over his wishy-washy attitude about Donald Trump.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Will Former Jeffco School Board Member Williams Help Sink Woods?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Recalled Jeffco school board members Ken Witt, John Newkirk, Julie Williams (WNW).

Recalled Jeffco school board members Ken Witt, John Newkirk, Julie Williams (WNW).

Last year’s recall of Jefferson County school board member Julie Williams is widely considered a huge factor in this year’s Arvada/Westminster state senate race that will likely determine whether Republicans retain control of the state senate.

Jefferson Country voters threw out Tea Party conservatives on their school board, with special ire directed at Williams, who was denounced by both sides. Even Dave Kopel, a researcher at the conservative Independence Institute, said Williams had a lot of “foolish” ideas.

The Jeffco vote was overwhelming, with 60 percent favoring the recall, and analysts believe the voters’ anger may carry over to Jeffco candidates aligned with Williams.

Sen. Laura Woods (R).

Sen. Laura Woods (R).

Williams has ties to Republican State Senator Laura Woods, who’s defending the Arvada/Westminster Senate District 19 seat against Democratic challenger Rachel Zenzinger.

State Sen. Tim Neville is Williams’ brother-in-law, and Neville is connected to Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, which heavily backed Woods’ upset victory in 2014. Woods backed Neville’s failed U.S. Senate bide earlier this year. And Woods and Neville have overlapping connections to other Republican operatives.

Williams makes no secret of her support for Woods, and Woods, who doesn’t return my calls, has apparently accepted Williams’ backing, which makes sense since Woods and Williams align in their support for Trump and guns, among other links.

Here’s Williams’ Sept. 17 Facebook post, obtained from a source, endorsing Woods:

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Carroll Punches Trump/Coffman. Hard.


Rep. Mike Coffman (R), Sen. Morgan Carroll (D).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R), Sen. Morgan Carroll (D).

As the Aurora Sentinel reports today, Democratic congressional candidate Morgan Carroll is out with a new TV spot, a shot directly at one of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s most controversial moments of verbal diarrhea–and by extension, whether incumbent GOP Rep. Mike Coffman likes it or not, her opponent:

The gloves have officially come off in the race for Colorado’s 6th Congressional District seat in Aurora, and GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump gets a hard left hook from state Sen. Morgan Carroll in a political TV ad being released today.

The one-two punch then aims for Carroll’s Republican incumbent opponent, Congressman Mike Coffman…

This round is over Trump’s infamous public slight to a disabled reporter. In the short TV ad, Carroll says her late father suffered from Parkinson’s Disease and that spurred her career in fighting for disabled workers.

The ad highlights a notorious clip of Trump imitating and mocking New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, who is disabled. Carroll’s campaign ad then shifts right to Coffman, who Carroll says tacitly approves of Trump’s antics because he hasn’t outright denounced his remarks and his candidacy.

As you can imagine, Team Coffman is outraged, outraged that Carroll isn’t buying Coffman’s Trump triangulation:

And the reason is simple, as we’ve discussed in this space countless times: Coffman’s “distance” from Trump is a contrivance.

[S]ince Coffman’s never said that he won’t vote for Trump, Democrats continue to taunt him on social media, and now with this ad. [Pols emphasis]

It goes both ways, however. Carroll has backed Hillary Clinton for president, something the Coffman campaign and Republicans tie to her with the same fervor.

“Donald Trump is running against the most corrupt candidate for president in modern political history,” Coffman told Aurora Sentinel reporter Rachel Sapin earlier this month in response to Trump meeting with Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto, and then flying to Arizona. There he gave a speech essentially inciting his base in regards to building a wall between the United States and Mexico. “Richard Nixon has nothing on Hillary Clinton. But Trump’s obsession with a hard-edge immigration policy is like a slammed door in the face of millions of voters. His meeting with the President of Mexico was one step forward. His Arizona speech was three steps back.”

Carroll campaign officials say Coffman is being disingenuous about being critical of Trump, having previously backed similar positions on immigration and other issues.

There’s a reason why Coffman is attacking Donald Trump for the same hard-line stance on immigration that he himself campaigned on for years. It’s also the reason why Coffman can’t have a sustained debate on the issue. The reason is that Coffman has spent most of his time in Congress hopelessly at odds with the majority of his constituents, and he can’t defend his record beyond the most superficial questions.

At the same time, Coffman can’t make the only commitment that matters with the election fast approaching: a pledge to not vote for Donald Trump. To do so would alienate too many Republican voters Coffman needs to win re-election. That is all the opening Carroll needs to plausibly assert, as she does in this ad, that Coffman “won’t stand up to Trump.”

And seriously, Richard Nixon? That’s just a talk-radio crock.

There’s no question that, in light of how undeniably effective Team Coffman has been at arguing reporters into a subject change, Carroll needs to be much more aggressive on calling out Coffman’s long “Trumplike” record. For Democrats, this latest ad is a welcome sign she is moving in that direction–and there’s a lot more material where this came from.

Tuesday Open Thread

“Men who are unhappy, like men who sleep badly, are always proud of the fact.”

–Bertrand Russell

State senator shares video showing shady, ugly guns

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado State Sen. Randy Baumgardnbaumgardner-gun-video-9-19-2016er has apparently removed a video, which he’d shared on his Facebook page, showing a man frantically firing weapons (apparently a sawed-off shotgun and fully automatic rifles and pistols) that are shady or, at worst, illegal under federal and state laws), unless you work the loopholes.

Banned high capacity magaizes are also shown in the video, which you can see here.

Baumgardner is glorifying some of the weapons and magazines used in the two worst gun massacres in Colorado history.

Maybe this occurred to him, because Baumgardner apparently removed the video, called a “Case of Mayhem,” sometime after he shared it over the weekend.

A call to Baumbgardner’s office confirming that he shared the video and seeking his reason for posting it, and an explanation for his taking it down, was not immediately returned.

The Moffat County Republican, whose Twitter handle is CapitalCowboy, is part of GOP State Senate leadership.

Oil Executive Favored as Trump’s Interior Secretary

Forrest Lucas

Forrest Lucas

As Politico reports, Donald Trump is likely to choose a well-known oil and gas executive as his Secretary of Petroleum Interior should he win the race for President:

Forrest Lucas, co-founder of oil products company Lucas Oil and an outspoken opponent of animal rights, is a leading contender for Interior secretary should Donald Trump win the White House, say two sources familiar with the campaign’s deliberations.

The Republican businessman, 74, is well known in Indiana, where in 2006 he won the naming rights to Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the Indianapolis Colts football team, for a reported $121.5 million over 20 years. He and his wife have given $50,000 to Mike Pence’s gubernatorial campaigns, according to Indiana state records.

Lucas’ company, Lucas Oil, is a fast-growing manufacturer of automotive oils, lubricants and other additives used in everything from cars to heavy-duty trucks.

One person briefed by the Trump campaign said Lucas is a “front-runner” for the Interior secretary job. The person, who was granted anonymity to talk about private discussions, added that Trump wants a “more business-friendly and business experience-heavy cabinet.”

Yikes.

Glenn: “I Am The Human Equivalent Of A Unicorn”

Darryl Glenn.

Darryl Glenn.

This week’s quotable quote is in a weekend story from the Durango Herald’s Jonathan Romeo, writing about a Southwest Colorado visit by longshot Republican U.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn:

“That has been a theme,” Glenn said of his stops in Cortez, Durango and Salida, among others. “They expect their representation to come out more and talk to them. If you aren’t talking with people and understanding their concerns, you can’t do your job.”

Most polls show the current El Paso County Commissioner trails Bennet with less than 50 days until the election, but Glenn, now on his “third or fourth” visit to the Western Slope, said he’s gaining traction.

“We have a lot of support,” he said. “They appreciate the fact I’m willing to come out here and listen. Sometimes people outside of the Front Range feel like they’re being left out.”

Now the problem with this statement from Glenn, by his own account only on his “third or fourth” trip to the Western Slope, is that Sen. Michael Bennet is in no way a stranger to western Colorado or rural parts of the state in general. Bennet serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee, and has been heavily involved with such Western Slope issues as the battle over oil and gas drilling in the Thompson Divide. Googling Bennet’s name along with “Durango,” “Grand Junction,” or “Western Slope” will return ample proof.

But as we’ve foreshadowed, that’s not the punchline:

“I am the human equivalent of a unicorn,” he said. [Pols emphasis]

It’s been said (famously and recently) that Republicans are not very good at what they derisively call “identity politics”–that is politics that center on one’s race or other superficial identifier. But unless we’re missing something obvious with Glenn calling himself “the human equivalent of a unicorn,” we’re pretty sure he’s trading on the fact that he is a conservative black man running for office.

It’s either that, or Darryl Glenn has joined the Bronies.

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